There are three main recognised types of Lawyer; Solicitors, Barristers and Chartered Legal Executives.
Solicitors study in all core areas of the law and are trained in usually four areas of practice, for 6 months each area. After qualifying they can practice in any area of law, regardless of their level of expertise or experience.
Barristers are lawyers who appear in Court and speak on behalf of clients. They receive specific advocacy training and are often considered experts in their chosen legal area.
Chartered Legal Executives specialise from the beginning, choosing one, or sometimes two, areas of law to practice in before they begin studying. They study two core law subjects at degree level (Contract and Tort for me) and two subjects in their specialism. For me, this was Wills and Succession and Probate Practice. I graduated with a Diploma in Law at degree level in 2009. In 2011 I began a period of recognised training, and qualified in 2013. I only work in and I am qualified in my area of law, Probate and Succession.
I have a practising certificate, and I am a member of a professional body (CILEx) who regulate my profession and me personally (as Solicitors do).
A firm of Solicitors is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. I am at the beginning of an application process to have my own regulated firm, regulated by CILEx regulation. This is a long process so in the meantime I am personally regulated and I do not, as a firm, undertake ‘reserved legal activities’ which require regulation. I have relationships with regulated firms of Solicitors who can offer these services and offer the finiancial protection required with more complex matters, such as probate.
Furthermore, in 2016 I achieved a distinction in the STEP Advanced Certificate in Will Preparation, recognised as the highest qualification in Will writing. I am also in the process of studying for the STEP Diploma in Trusts and Estates, towards becoming a Trusts and Estates Practitioner. I am also a member of Solicitors for the Elderly, a niche group of lawyers specialising in the laws that affect older clients.
It’s a complicated business, law! Not everyone who offers legal advice is qualified. Make sure that the person assisting you has the experience and qualifications to be able to do so to the level you should be able to expect.
Any queries, please ask.